I love a good hero story; a story in which an unlikely character is the saving grace of what is sure to be a horrible outcome. Such a story is even better when it comes with a good backstory and a character full of heart and charm. Over the years, many games have arrived on our consoles to bring these experiences with them, with the old-school classics mostly coming from the platforming genre. Many of these have taken us on an adventure to save a poor soul who has been captured and left defenceless, whilst you’ve had to blast your way through countless obstacles and enemies to save them. Sound familiar?
Of course it does, and those of you who remember the good old days, and mustered up the courage to buy the original big black box from Microsoft, will probably remember Voodoo Vince. 13 years have passed since that tiny doll was taking over the TV and it’s a long time to go without a sequel, especially for a fella who was so well loved by his fans. But whilst a sequel is probably still some way off, how does a remaster of that long-lost story bode in the current generation of weekly releases and big budget titles?
For those that can’t remember those ancient days, let me bring you up to speed.
You’re Vince, Voodoo Vince to his enemies and the third best Voodoo doll of Madame Charmaine’s collection. But that doesn’t matter anymore, because it is you who must pack up your best voodoo powers, save Madame Charmaine, and defeat the evil seventh-grade dropout Kosmo the Inscrutable. You see, Kosmo has kidnapped her and her precious zombie dust, all in a bid to complete his plans of world domination.
So how are you going to do it? By platforming your way to glory of course as Voodoo Vince is a 3D platformer that originates from the good old days of gaming. But whilst his return has had many excited, recent times have seen more modern 3D platformers light up the gaming scene. So what can Vince do to take the spotlight once more?
In all honesty, not much. But let me tell you why.
Voodoo Vince is a game that starts life as an eager adventure, whisking you out the door as quickly as possible to ensure you’re off on your quest to save Madam Charmaine. The opening cutscene is a rather action heavy sequence that lays foundations to a potentially brilliant plot, but unfortunately the rest of the game thereafter fails to deliver the same level of excitement.
From the opening moments, you finally find your feet, but even Vince himself is questioning what has just happened. Naturally this is meant to bring a slightly comedic tone to things, but when the rest of the game fails to show that was just a joke, you have to wonder what all the fuss is about.
Throughout the game, you progress through multiple levels, each littered with various collectibles such as Dust Bags, Power Skulls and Skull Pages. None of these are particularly difficult to find though and you should have no problem grabbing them. Joining the collectibles are various characters, some appearing in just a single level, but all who act as simple quest givers in each level. And that’s your basic premise here – each level you progress through will see you running around sweeping up the collectibles, from which 100 Dust Bags will grant you an upgrade to your health, each Power Skull gives you – as the name suggests – a new power, and the Skull Pages, once all collected, bring about a pink skull for you to chase down, adding an extra slot to your voodoo meter. This is important for those wanting to enjoy all of the various Voodoo attacks, as each one requires power to be stored in Vince’s meter, which in turn gets filled by collecting the orbs dropped by each enemy you dispatch.
Other than mopping up all of those pickups, which only takes a few minutes of running around each area, you have the quest givers. These may be characters giving you puzzles or some basic task to fulfil, usually so you can get your hands on something you need to progress through to the next area. There are many games on the market that use characters in a ‘one and done’ capacity – RPG titles are filled with them in fact – but whilst they don’t always need to have a deep backstory to be interesting, the dull design and bland colours of Voodoo Vince make each encounter feel more like more of a chore than anything else. Whilst you can usually sort out anything they ask in a few minutes, it doesn’t make for exciting or engaging gameplay and that’s a real let down for any game in such a family friendly genre.
As for Vince himself, the guys over at Beep Games have done a fantastic job of bringing him up to date. From his appearance to his attacks, everything about Vince is just as great as fans will remember. Vince comes with several different moves too, with my favourite being his Voodoo power attack. These can be collected throughout the game but the idea is pretty much the same – being a Voodoo doll, Vince inflicts damage on himself via the pressing of both triggers, and then finishes off any surrounding enemies with that power. Of course, each move has the same result regardless of which one it is you action, but the fresh animation for each move brings a nice change to things. As for his other attacks, these are pretty basic, bringing a spin attack reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot and a simple punch to Vince’s arsenal.
But in all honesty, Vince himself brings the most enjoyment in Voodoo Vince Remastered. Each of the open-world levels are bland and empty in design, leaving plenty of room for improvement, the story dies off after the opening sequence and fails to gather that excitement again, and the collectibles are nothing more than a short non-essential extension to each level.
Whilst I would like to point out that this is indeed only a remaster of a 2003 title, it would have been nice to have seen things improved upon with some fresh additions or a more colourful, busier game space. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for Voodoo Vince Remastered and the former cult hit fails to really sparkle again, with time being pretty unkind to old Vince.
Voodoo Vince Remastered isn’t likely to be on the radar for platformer of the year, and those who once adored the ancient doll may wish to remember him in a more nostalgic tone rather than jumping back in for a re-run. That said, if it’s just a simple 3D platformer you’re looking for, there is enough here to occupy you, even if it is for just a few hours. Unfortunately with other newer titles now available and filling the 3D platforming void, it seems Voodoo Vince mixes a case of poor timing with poor improvements. I would have loved to have seen Vince shine once more, but there are better ways to get your platforming thrill.